14th Annual ECN Workshop Agenda

Living Life in the Fast Lane: Innovation in Event Management

8:30 a.m. – Workshop Check-In

A light breakfast will be available as attendees check in and network. 

9 a.m. – Keynote Address: Mastering High Stakes Conversations

The ECN is excited to announce Karen Hilton as the ECN visiting lecturer for the Spring 2023 semester, beginning with a discussion regarding high stakes conversations. Karen's passion is helping vision-driven leaders and their organizations find vision, focus, purpose, and perspective.

Karen R. Hilton, T.A.P. Executive Coaching

headshot of karen hiltonKaren has more than 30 years of hands-on management and corporate leadership experience, numerous professional certifications, and real-time experience in the trenches of leadership with her clients. Karen has a track record for co-creating transformational, mission-driven engagements that empower leaders and organizations to create sustainable, outcome-focused partnerships

10:30 a.m. – Breakout Session 1

Preparing for the Open Road: Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion Event Planning

Breakout Room I - Kirkwood

Join our panel of experts as they share basic guidelines to make events as inclusive as possible such as through programming, date selection, diverse catering, accessibility, signage, etc. to give your audience a sense of belonging. 

Jonathan Duke, Kennesaw State University

Dr. Jonathan Duke currently serves as the Director of Events, Camps, & Conferences at Kennesaw State University.  Prior to KSU, Dr. Duke was the Associate Director of the Emory Student Center where he supervised the staff of Meetings, Building, & Event Services and advised multiple student organizations.  Dr. Duke’s 16-year higher education career in both public and private institutions has spanned various revenue generating departments including student unions, new student orientation, student activities, and event & venue management.  Prior to higher education, Dr. Duke was an industrial engineering consultant and project manager for the restaurant operations team of WD Partners.

Gary W. Sergent, University of Georgia

Gary W. Sergent serves as Director-Conferences & Symposiums within the Office of Executive Programs at University of Georgia’s Terry College of Business. In his role, Gary collaborates with administrators, faculty, and staff to provide leadership and professional development programs around strategy, change management, and Lean Six Sigma certifications. Gary also leads two volunteer advisory boards to provide quarterly CFO Roundtable programs for senior leaders across Atlanta’s finance community and Trucking Profitability Strategies Conference for C-Suite executives across North America.

Gary earned a Master of Business Administration from University of Phoenix and Bachelor Business Administration-Finance from Georgia State University. He is also certified as a Lean Six Sigma Green Belt. Gary resides in Athens, Georgia with his husband and life partner Shelly. 

Alexis Martinez, Georgia Tech

Served in senior student affairs role at several law schools, including Georgia State University and St. John’s University, responsible for academic matters, professional development, student discipline, orientation, disability services, financial aid advising, as well as student organization advisement and leadership development. She was also previously served as the Dean of Students and chief conduct officer at Nova Southeastern University. She is on the Advisory Board for the Georgia Latino Law Foundation, as well as Committee on Virtual Programming for the National Association of College and University Attorneys. She previously served on the Executive Committee of the Student Services Section for the Association of American Law Schools and served as the Chair of the 2021 National Leadership Conference for Omicron Delta Kappa, the National Leadership Honor Society. Alexis has a B.B.A, JD, and M.S.Ed. from the University of Miami, and an Ed.D. from Peabody College at Vanderbilt University.

Carly Bloomingdale, Georgia Tech

Carly Bloomingdale has worked in Georgia Tech Student Center Programs for over 8 years in several roles. She currently serves as the Director of Programs for the Georgia Tech Student and Campus Event Centers. Prior to working at Georgia Tech, Carly worked in student housing at University of Arizona, Bowling Green State University, and with the off-campus private housing company, EdR Trust. Planning student events to help students find community outside of their classroom has always been the best part of her roles in higher education. Carly currently leads the team that plans and advises SCPC and graduate student events. She manages Tech Rec, Paper & Clay, Campus Tickets, Graduate Lounge, Multicultural Programs Lounge, and the Reflection Space in the new John Lewis Student Center and Stamps Commons. Carly earned her B.A in Advertising at Ball State University and her M.A. in Higher Education Administration from University of Arizona.

Low on Gas: Maximizing Your Budget 

Breakout II - Buckhead

With inflation on the rise and supply shortages, this session's speaker will share innovative ways to maximize your planning budget.

Jillian Smith, OneTouch Events LLC

Owner, Creative Director, and Event Strategist Jillian Smith has masterfully diversified her event planning firm service offerings to include Comprehensive Event Planning & Design. Jillian knows how to equip her clients with the data, design, and details that are required to produce a military-precision executed event.

11:15 a.m. – Breakout Session 2

Filling the Stands: Event Marketing 101 

Breakout II - Buckhead

Learn tips and tricks to event marketing that will help you fill every seat in your room. 

Sheretha Bell, Discover Atlanta

Sheretha brings more than 20 years of marketing experience with a customer-centric approach to business success. She will speak on how to bring fresh concepts through marketing, advertising, content development social media, copywriting, and media/community relations.

Nuts & Bolts to a Great Event 

Breakout I - Kirkwood

Learn from our award-winning panel of industry experts how to plan a memorable guest experience in live and virtual environments.

Toni Friday, Liaison and Global Event Consultant

Toni Friday brings over 25 years of on-the-ground, strategic event planning experience. Instrumental in curating experiences globally and across some of the City of Atlanta’s largest events Toni is known for her ability to navigate complex circumstances with grace under pressure. Having mastered the ability to think on multiple levels simultaneously, with tact and precision, Toni has accommodated over 20,000 guests annually. As a liaison and event consultant, she has led event experiences for some of the world’s most affluent congressional, senatorial, and mayoral figures, teaming to orchestrate and personally receive - Royalty.

Outside of her philanthropic passions and current role as Associate Director of Corporate Partnerships and Donor Engagement for the esteemed cultural arts institution - Alliance Theatre, Toni is the proud co-owner of a new startup, Lillie Pie. A pie ball™ company, quickly making its mark as the absolute best, TINY TASTE OF HOME!

Reared between the U.K. and U.S., she was a long-time resident of Hampton, VA. She now resides in Atlanta, GA—however, she will always call North Carolina home.

Marion Welsh, Cobb Galleria

26 years as National Sales Manager responsible for conventions and tradeshows.  Prior to Cobb Galleria Centre, national sales manager for luxury brands Windsor Court Hotel, New Orleans, and Ritz Carlton Hotel Company.  Professional Meeting Planning Instructor, KSU College of Continuing and Professional Education.  Southeast Chapter President, PCMA (Professional Convention Management Association).

William Fogler, WM Events

William Fogler founded WM Events in 2004 and has grown the full-service event planning, design and production firm into an award-winning company known for attention to detail and flawless execution. A native of Denver, William brought his West coast style and sensibility to Atlanta, where he has been guided by the idea that experience is everything, and if you’re going to make a real splash—you’d better be ready to commit your heart and soul. William supports numerous nonprofit organizations and serves on the board of Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta Hughes-Spalding. He was honored with the 2021 Dale Riggins Humanitarian Award by the Allie Awards Board of Directors.

Tim Barrett, Destination South

With more than 20 years of hospitality experience, Tim Barrett, CMP is a certified meeting professional that has worked strategically with a variety of clients in developing and producing worldwide meetings, tradeshows, and conferences.

Ad director of global events for Destination South Meetings + Events, an award-winning Atlanta-based experiential agency, he oversees a department in charge of venue and vendor selections, contracting, planning, and execution.

As an industry volunteer, he serves as a member on the US Council of Meeting Professionals International (MPI) Foundation, the Event Program Review Advisory Board for MPI's World Education Congress, and on the MPI RISE Awards Committee.

12:30 p.m.- Workshop Luncheon

Lunch is provided for all attendees who register by January 13. 

1:45 p.m. - Breakout Session 3

Super Speedway Events: Large Scale Event Production

Breakout Room I - Kirkwood

Michael Kloss, Emory University's University Events and Chief Protocol Officer, will share how to plan large-scale events with a little help from a mickey mouse.

Michael Kloss, Emory University

Michael Kloss, CSEP is an award-winning Certified Special Event Professional, author, and event-planning instructor for more than 20 years. Special Events Magazine's “Organizational Event Planner-of-the-Year” in 2012, Michael brings his passion for event technology, storytelling, experiential design, and Disney-inspired guest relations to each event he produces. He serves as the Assistant Vice President for Emory Events and Chief Protocol Officer at Emory University. Prior to Emory, Michael served as Executive Director of University Events for the University of Southern California. Select event awards include the International Live Events Association (ILEA) ESPRIT award for “Best Original Entertainment” for an original Cirque du Soleil-style gala performance, the 2021 ILEA ESPRIT Award for “Best Industry Contribution” for his book “Five Days with the Mouse to be a Better Event Planner,” the Grand Gold Award from the Council for the Advancement and Support of Education (CASE) for events with His Holiness the Dalai Lama, and the 2022 CASE Gold Award for multi-day 2O36 Campaign Launch events at Emory and across the country.

Planning for a Pit Stop: Why Operations Plans are so Critical

Breakout II - Buckhead

Alex serves as the Executive Director of Sustainability and Building Operations at Georgia Tech. He will teach on how to successfully lead cross-functional teams and logistical operations during all phases of the event planning lifecycle. 

Alex Ortiz, Georgia Tech

Alex is currently Executive Director of Sustainability and Building Operations, overseeing a portfolio of campus buildings and sustainable practices. Alex has 15 years of strategy and operations experience in a diversity of fields including: service industry, life-sciences, logistics, public health and facilities.

2:45 p.m. – Recharge and Refuel: Networking and Vendor Fair

Network with colleagues, meet Georgia Tech approved vendors, and get your pictures taken in a 360 photo booth, over light refreshments. Vendors include:

  • Button It Up 
  • Balloonacy 
  • Tech Catering 
  • Time to Dine 
  • Serendipity Catering
  • Avenue Catering
  • Classic Tents and Events
  • Monte Carlo Productions 
  • Revel 
  • Carlyle's Catering
  • Booker Promotions Inc. 
  • Magic Man Entertainment
  • Event Works

3:30 pm – Workshop Closing